Apr 22, 2023 - Real Estate

Chicago apartments add next-level amenities like music, craft rooms

One Chicago in the skyline

One Chicago, a mixed-use development offering resort perks. Photo: JDL Development.

Chicago's luxury apartment developers are racing to offer amenities aimed at attracting more renters.

Why it matters: The push comes as many would-be homebuyers opt to rent longer, incentivizing properties to compete for a growing cohort of high-income renters.

State of play: More eyes are on rentals, because there aren't many downtown homes for sale, luxury real estate broker Matt Mercer tells Axios.

  • Also, the apartment market is stabilizing. Chicago posted the second-largest drop in rent nationwide in March, compared with a year prior, per a new Redfin report.

What's happening: As developers sacrifice apartment square footage for communal amenity space, loaded gyms with saunas, sleek board rooms and resort-style pools are increasingly hallmarks of the city's luxury buildings.

  • "Every new building that goes up has got something you've never seen before," Gold Coast Realty's Mercer says.

By the numbers: High-rolling renters are on the rise. The number of metro-area renters earning $150,000 or more grew by 91.5% from 2016 to 2021, per U.S. Census data.

  • That's higher than the national average increase of 86%.
Data: RentCafe; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals
Data: RentCafe; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

The big picture: Apartment construction is booming nationwide. Historically, new rental housing tends to hit at the higher end of the market, says Chris Salviati, senior economist at Apartment List.

  • That trend has become more pronounced in recent years as rising project costs squeeze developers, he says.

Zoom in: Buildings that offer the ease of having everything close at hand can fill up fast, Mercer says, pointing to One Chicago in River North.

  • The towering development nearly hit full occupancy within nine months of opening.

What's next: Apartment pickleball courts? Luxury broker Mike Larson, also with Gold Coast Realty, says incorporating a small space to play the fast-growing sport would be a hit as buildings keep trying to set themselves apart.

  • Yes, but: "Soundproof that room, so no one can hear," he says.
outdoor pool at One Chicago
One Chicago residents get free access to Life Time Athletic's outdoor pool and gym. Photo: JDL Development.

We scoured the city for amenities that scream "indulgence."

ğŸŽ¸ Jam room at Cascade: The Lakeshore East building boasts a studio outfitted for live music sessions, instruments included.

  • Maker space and shop table: Residents can hone their craft or practice a new skill using an array of tools or art supplies.
  • The building's sprawling amenity level also has a 25-yard indoor lap pool, studios for strength training, yoga and spin, steam rooms and other perks.

🍷 Wine room at Eleven Thirty: Located along Michigan Avenue, the South Loop building offers storage space for residents' wine collection that doubles as a tasting party venue.

🏋️‍♂️ Life Time Athletic membership at One Chicago: Residents receive a complimentary membership to the high-end fitness facility located within the River North development.

🌳 Four-acre riverfront park at Wolf Point East: Tucked on a private drive on the Riverwalk, the building's green space is filled with cherry blossom trees and gardens.

🚗 On-site Zipcar at One Bennett Park: The Streeterville building offers a car sharing option, in addition to electric car chargers.

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